Prunus avium 'Stella'

Common Name: bird cherry 
Type: Fruit
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible


Grow in average, medium moisture, well drained soil in full sun. Prefers moisture-retentive soils with good drainage. No tolerance for wet soils.


Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus avium is generally grown as an ornamental cherry tree. It is native to Europe and Asia and has been cultivated in the U.S. since colonial times. Although it is a parent of many of the sweet cherry cultivars sold in commerce today for fruit production (such as the popular bing cherry), its fruits are smaller and not as sweet or tasty as the cultivars. It is a deciduous tree that typically grows 20-30’ tall in cultivation, but may reach 60’ in its native habitat. Fragrant white flowers (to 1.5” diameter) appear singly or in 3-5 flowered clusters in spring slightly before the foliage emerges. Flowers are followed by small sweet red to black cherries which ripen in early summer. Oval, dull, dark green leaves (to 6” long) turn yellow in fall. Birds and squirrels love the fruit, and are undoubtedly in part responsible for the naturalization of this tree from gardens into the wild in eastern and midwestern North America. Also commonly called mazzard cherry.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet is from the Latin word for bird.

'Stella' is a long-popular sweet cherry cultivar that produces a crop of dark, red-fruited, sweet eating cherries in early summer. It is commonly sold grafted to either a semi-dwarf or dwarf rootstock. The 'Stella' being grown at the Kemper Center is a dwarf tree which is generally less vigorous and less spreading than the larger forms. A good pollinator for other cherry varieties which are not self-fertile. White blossoms in spring.


Potential disease problems include leaf spot, bacterial canker, brown rot, black knot, crown gall, leaf curl, leaf scorch, powdery mildew, root rot, scab and shot-hole fungus. Potential insect pests include aphids, fruit flies, saw flies and scale. Netting or nylon mesh can be used, if necessary, to prevent birds from stealing the crop. Cold winter temperatures and spring frosts can cause significant injury to buds/flowers, almost to the same extent as with peaches.


Grown primarily for the fruit crop and not for ornamental value. This dwarf cherry is ideal for people with space limitations. Place in full sun in an area where periodic spraying with fungicides and other pesticides will not be a problem.